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Govt should talk to locals opposing refinery, find alternative site: Pawar

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MUMBAI, April 26 (PTI): Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said the Maharashtra government should hold a dialogue with local villagers who are opposing a refinery project in the coastal Ratnagiri district.

If the issue was not resolved even after that, an alternative site should be found, he said.

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Pawar spoke to reporters here after state industries minister Uday Samant met him to discuss the issue.

Residents of Barsu village in Ratnagiri district’s Rajapur tehsil, more than 400 km from Mumbai, are up in arms against the project and the Shiv Sena (UBT) and Congress, the NCP’s allies in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition, are supporting them.

Pawar said his party did not oppose development projects in Konkan, but finding out the opinion of the locals was a must.

“The government needs to find out why the locals are angry… having a dialogue with them is the only solution. If the matter is not resolved through a dialogue, an alternative site should be found,’’ the former Union minister said.

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On the state government’s contention that Uddhav Thackeray, when he was chief minister, had suggested Barsu as an alternative  instead of Nanar, the original site, Pawar said he was not aware of that.

‘‘Industries minister Uday Samant who met me assured that a dialogue will take place tomorrow. Yesterday only soil testing was being done at the site,’’ he further said.

NCP leaders will visit the site and talk to the locals, Pawar added.

Samant, who is the guardian minister of Ratnagiri district, told reporters that the women protestors detained at the project site have been released.

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“The government will speak to the villagers,” he added.

Pawar, meanwhile, told reporters that he would be visiting Punjab on Thursday for Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal’s last rites.

To another question, he said he was not aware of any proposal by Uddhav Thackeray that an NCP leader should become the chief minister if the MVA wins the next Assembly elections.

“If Sanjay Raut is saying this, he is a journalist…..the media knows more than we do. I am not aware,’’ the NCP supremo said.

About the posters describing his nephew Ajit Pawar as a future CM coming up in some places, Pawar said Ajit Pawar himself had told his supporters not to do such things.

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